Anna Dodonova was born in Kiev, Ukraine, before moving to East Berlin with her family in the 90s. After studying graphic design in Berlin, and interior design in the UK, she opened the Anna Casa Interiors showroom in Cheslea Harbour Design Center in 1997. Although Dodonova still maintains her studio in Chelsea, she has gone on to open a showroom in the very heart of London’s luxury design scene on Hay Hill in Mayfair. Working with only the most luxurious brands in the industry, Dodonova travels all over the world transforming the homes of a discerning clientele. We caught up with Dodonova to hear more about the latest interior trends, who she’s working with, and her latest projects.
How did you get into interior design?
I was born in Kiev in Ukraine, and I was always interested in art, drawing and being creative. In the 90s we moved to Germany, to Berlin, and I studied graphic design there. That gave me a strong start. If you are creative or artistic you can go into anything, but you obviously tend to have a touch for something in particular. After working for an advertising company in East Berlin for a few years, an amazing area, I wanted to get into interior design. I had always been interested in interior design, but in Germany it was not a very developed industry. I knew that in London it was a different story . I moved to London to study interior design and that was my real start. I loved it. I always helped my parents when we had a new apartment, so it was very easy, it came naturally. Then I decided to open first with the showroom to help create a strong relationship with high end, luxury Italian brands. Once I had my showroom I was more confident to start working on projects. I had the brands, the image, and in the showroom I reflected my style. The showroom opened in February 2007 in Chelsea Harbour Design Centre. Then I decided to move to Mayfair, to have a presence in a retail area. Chelsea Harbour is an amazing space and the studio is still there, but I believe it’s better to be here [Mayfair], Chelsea is not a retail destination point. In Mayfair it’s prestigious, exclusive and there’s lot of events.
What interior design trends are you seeing right now?
Trends… well, it’s difficult to say. There’s so much on the market. At the moment I am working on residential projects. My style reflects glamorous, classic, timeless, but dramatic. Not too contemporary. Something that reflects their personality. I make it cosy but allow effects. It’s very important for me to create a house where people feel comfortable and happy. Our home is where we get inspiration, where we can be calm, where we relax. We need to feel hugged by our home. It has to give you everything.
Right now, while travelling, I see a lot of pastel colours. Black and white is still very strong too. This is a classic theme. I see a lot of interiors reflecting fashion. There’s strong colours, blue, orange… People use those in interiors too. However, I tend to create a space that’s beige and ivory, in which you can change the accessories, the curtains. Then you can give a different look to your home with accessories, by painting a wall blue, using wallpaper, with furniture or chandeliers. I go for something more classic. Sometimes we see something and you love it but you can quickly tire of it.
Which brands are you working with?
I use Baxter, they are leather specialists who craft sofas, furniture etc. Their leather is almost handmade, treated well, they really take care of it. Their pieces, say a sofa, will have an amazing design. The leather is really special and unique. They do a really big range of furniture and I have exclusivity with them. It’s very original in design.
In the showroom I combine the Baxter pieces with Manooi chandeliers. They come from Hungary. The designer is an artist but he wanted to be an astronaut when he was a child. He comes up very contemporary modern designs. I love to mix it with classic, traditional interiors. They look great together with Baxter.
We’re changing the display every four months, moving the showroom around so when our clients come in they always see something new, so they don’t get bored.
What projects are you working on?
At the moment most of them are residential projects. I am working on one large apartment in Knightsbridge for Russian clients. They live in Moscow but have a property here. It’s very nice because it’s luxury, very me! They like to use the suppliers I work with, a lot of Baxter. Some spaces are small so I like to work with mirrors you can double up the space. London can be challenging.
I am also working on a large house just outside of London. This is more of an English classic, almost Georgian style, but still quite contemporary. Trying to reflect the style of the property and when it was built can be quite a challenge. You can be like Philippe Starck and break the rules, but when most people create their family home, they try to be a bit more calm. So there we are trying to do every room different but classic, elegant and with an element of Anna Casa glamour.
There’s another house in Queens Gate that I’m working on. It’s more traditional and we’re using Venetian mirrors. I love to mix those with classic design.
I have also just come back from Nairobi as I’m working on quite an exciting project, a big house. We are starting with the ground floor and it’s huge. I love it. They love strong colours and they are not afraid of red, green, orange, yellow. It’s an amazing mix of all these colours. We have a dining room and they choose all these strong colours, not just one. I have to make it work. I love it that here in London, there are so many colours on the market, but most of my clients are afraid to use them. In Nairobi they are totally different. In the master bedroom the main colour will be lime green.
How do you choose pieces for your showroom and projects?
I travel a lot and I visit exhibitions. I have a good relationship with owners of the factories. The Italians are very talented in food, fashion and furniture. We know the history, starting with Michelangelo. You see something, you like it, but you need to speak to people to understand it. When you talk to everyone you understand the product. Then it’s easier to choose. When you go to exhibitions you see their latest collection. That helps me.
What inspires you?
Travel really inspires me. I always try to go to new places. I like travelling in Asia, I love Europe. Everytime you go to Italy it inspires you, France too. Even East Berlin still inspires me. You just need to open your eyes. Last year I went to Bhutan, that was amazing, people there are so spiritual. The country has just two airplanes! It was inspiring seeing them in their national clothes. They are very colourful. They have amazing traditions that you’ve just never have seen before.
2 Hay Hill, Mayfair, London W1J 6AS
Tel: 020 7629 0045